WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Catholic-run hospital in the Nuba Mountains of war-torn South Kordofan in Sudan was targeted by the Sudanese air force over two days, said a retired bishop.
Bishop Macram Max Gassis, who retired in October as head of the Diocese of El Obied, Sudan, charged that Mother of Mercy Hospital was deliberately targeted by the Sudan government, causing patients and medical staff to seek cover May 1 and 2.
“The bombing is an outrage against innocent civilians who are seeking medical assistance from our hospital,” Bishop Gassis said in a statement May 5 from his home in Kenya. “The sick have nothing to do with the conflict that has devastated the Nuba Mountains since June 2011. They are innocent civilians protected by international law from direct targeting by military forces.
“International law demands that civilians are protected during conflict, but the attack today is a direct violation of this fundamental humanitarian principle. It is a violation of the sacredness of all human life, which we must protect at all costs.”
The facility is the only functioning hospital in the Nuba Mountains and serves more than 150,000 annually, according to Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella organization of Catholic aid agencies.
More than 200 patients were in the hospital at the time the bombs exploded, according to hospital officials.
Nuba Reports, a website based in South Kordofan, reported that no one was killed in the initial bombing that sent patients fleeing to safety. The bombs shattered windows and weakened the roof of the hospital’s medical director, the site said.
A second plane returned May 2, but its bombs landed in nearby mountains, witnesses said.
“They want to drive people out of here. This is the only thing that makes any sense; there’s nothing militarily here. There’s no military objective to destroying this place,” Dr. Tom Catena, the hospital’s medical director, said in a video posted by Nuba Reports.
Nearly three years of fighting between the Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has displaced more than 1 million people, according to the United Nations. Non-Arab groups have accused the Arab-dominated regime of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir of neglect and discrimination, fueling the conflict.
International rights organizations have charged that the Sudanese military indiscriminately attacks communities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Talks between the government and SPLM-North were suspended May 1 and tentatively set to resume by the end of the month.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103